Dojo Storming

Probably most of you will never have to deal with challenge matches. It’s a good thing, they almost never end well. It’s a funny business…prone to ugliness when the slightest bit of ego gets involved, with a tiny chance of ending well. The skilled artists can come calling sometimes, and be very polite and want to play…and polite or no, you know they are challenging you. It’s a very serious thing. The truth of martial arts is that you learn to lose a fair bit. The good ones know this, and every time they win something, they remember a little of losing. Twice when I was at Academie Duello we had groups of more modern fencers show up on our open fight nights, looking to test us out. The sabre guys were fantastic. We came out strongly ahead, but it wasn’t an honest bout, as they were trying rapiers for…

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The Other Point of View

Screenwriting is a complex art. It has demanding rules, and success is rare. Like swordplay, it takes focused study of the art to master the basics. It has variations from medium to medium…feature films have a different format than sitcoms, pacing changes from webseries to short films, and so on…and the standard changes constantly, so you have to keep up to date on the latest trends. When you start, you immerse yourself in screenplays. Hundreds of them have to be read before you get a real proficiency for the form. But you can’t ever just read screenplays, or write screenplays. You have to be a writer first and foremost, which always implies being a reader. If you want to learn to write dialogue well, most writers recommend reading Elmore Leonard. As a writer, I don’t see any problem reading mystery novels in order to improve my screenplays, even though they…

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Slow The F— Down…

If I could only ever do one thing to improve my fencing, it would be slow work with a competent partner. It’s the mother of all good technique, it’s the best teacher there is. In one bout of slow work, I can find my focus for my personal drills and exercise for the next week. I can learn where my posture is off, how my habits are leaving openings, and what things I should be developing as new attack skills. It’s simply the most important skill there is in martial arts, and it’s easily the one people screw up the most. The things I’ve done to try and make people do slow work correctly are numerous…Forcing everyone to move on the same count, bringing doumbek’s to class and playing at different speeds to entice people to follow the tempo, rants, explanations, grabbing someone’s arm and physically moving it at the…

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Tone Deaf

Going to rant a little bit. It doesn’t take much to get me going, some days. Today it was Twitter’s fault. Or rather a tidbit that was forwarded on twitter, linking to an online article. How could I not click on it? It was labelled “Muscles Used In Fencing.”  Sounded neat…I was pretty leery when I saw that it was a Livestrong link. That place seems to have become home to some seriously empty fluff disguised as sports science. I clicked anyway. I suppose I just assume a lot of things are common sense. I’m wrong about that. It’s a lesson I learn frequently. I make the assumption that people without a formal education are as curious as I am, always eager to learn. It seems completely natural to me to pick up a hobby, and then study the hell out of it, from every possible angle, and as deeply…

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A Little More Film Fun

The new phone has a handy built-in video highlight feature. Just had to try it out in class last night, and share the results with you guys. A little swordplay: A smidge more of our workouts: And a little bit more of the whole class: Apparently the software uses some complexity juggling to stitch things together, and it’s tweakable with some work. I’ll be putting together some more video this weekend to explain what we do in class better, but I thought you all might enjoy the little robot-generated teasers first. If I can figure out a quick way to tweak them, I might make a habit of uploading highlight videos every few classes…probably to facebook, maybe google+. They sure are fun so far…

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At the tip of the sword

Martial arts is so much easier than writing, sometimes. It might just be that I am newer at one thing than the other. A houseguest for a few days not only costs me my buffer of pre-written blog posts, but it takes me about a week to get my head fully back into the rhythm of daily writing. Injuries, sickness and other issues can take me out of my daily martial arts practice, but it never feels like a big deal…training is such a part of me that I know it will resume at the first chance. Writing still leaves me with a smidge of fear instead of confidence. The nature of my martial arts training has changed over the decades. It’s one of those things that tends to make old martial artists fat. When we are younger, everything is hard and takes more effort to learn, nevermind master. Who…

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